United States v. Bilodeau
United States v. Bilodeau (U.S. Court of Appeals, 1st Cir., Jan. 26, 2022): The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment denying defendants’ claims that the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) misappropriated federal funds to prosecute medical marijuana business associates from Maine, who were accused of running an underground operation despite obtaining Maine marijuana business licenses. In response to the growing discrepancies between federal and state law, Congress enacted appropriations legislation prohibiting the DOJ from spending appropriated funds to prevent states from implementing medical marijuana laws. The appropriations rider placed a practical limit on federal prosecutors’ ability to enforce the Controlled Substances Act with respect to certain conduct involving medical marijuana. The court explained that the DOJ “may not spend funds to bring prosecutions if doing so prevents a state from giving practical effects to its medical marijuana laws.” Because the defendants engaged in cultivation, possession, and distribution activities that were clearly in violation of Maine law, the DOJ was not prohibited from using funds to prosecute the defendants. An overly strict interpretation of the rider would allow rogue marijuana operations and disincentivize businesses from abiding the state regulatory scheme. Read the full decision here.